HISTORICAL EVENTS THAT TOOK PLACE ON THIS DAY IN CANADA
Sir Mackenzie Bowell (1823-1917)
Bowell Loses Minister
This is the anniversary of an amazing event in Canadian political history. A Canadian prime minister found himself unable to fill all the positions in his cabinet because his colleagues had formed a picket line.
The Government of Manitoba, supported by a strong mandate of the people, had passed an act making public schools nonsectarian. Roman Catholics felt they were entitled to separate schools arid appealed the act through a series of courts, with varying results. Finally, the Privy Council in London ruled that the federal government had the right to force Manitoba to provide separate schools.
The political situation became so confused that Conservative Prime Minister Sir Mackenzie Bowell, a leading Orangeman, found himself supporting the Roman Catholic position while the Liberal Leader of the Opposition, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, a Roman Catholic, supported the Protestant side.
Prime Minister Bowell's policy supporting separate schools was so unpopular with many members of his party that on January 7, 1896, seven cabinet ministers resigned. When Rowell tried to find replacements for them, the -rebels- picketed the government offices to stop him from recruiting new ministers.
The bill to force Manitoba to restore separate schools was filibustered in Parliament. On one occasion the House of Commons was in session for one hundred hours while members discussed everything from the Bible to Alice in Wonderland. Finally, the bill was withdrawn.
The Liberals under Wilfrid Laurier won the election that followed. Laurier won most of the seats in Quebec even though he had opposed his church. On the other hand, Manitoba returned four Conservatives to three Liberals, even though the Conservatives had favoured the return of separate schools. It was all very confusing, but Sir Wilfrid Laurier worked out a compromise which allowed for religious instruction and bilingual teaching in schools where ten or more students spoke a language other than English.
OTHER NOTABLE EVENTS ON THIS DAY IN CANADIAN HISTORY
-1608 Henry IV of France renewed de Mont's fur trade monopoly and temporarily saved the colony at Port Royal, N.S.
-1691 A second issue of money was made from playing cards in order to finance a garrison at Quebec (see April 18).
-1765 French-speaking citizens appealed to King George to change the legal system.
-1859 Canadian silver coinage was first issued. (Nova Scotia had issued coins earlier but was not then a part of Canada.)
-1955 The opening ceremonies of Parliament were broadcast on television for the first time.
-1960 Antonio Barrette became Premier of Quebec.
-1963 Contracts for flood prevention in the Red River area were let. This was the largest earth moving job in Canadian history.